2017 draft horse show canceled

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(File photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER) A Nagle Belgians driver guides his team around the arena in the “unicorn-hitch” driving competition during the 2016 Idaho State Draft Horse and Mule International Show at the Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint. The competition requires a driver to hitch three horses or mules to the cart, two in back and one in front, harkening back to the days when a little more power was needed to move a load.

SANDPOINT — Smoke from the region's wildfires prompted organizers of the Idaho State Draft Horse and Mule International Show to cancel this year's event.

"... The smoke in the air and the quality of the air has created a hazardous environment for the animals as well as the spectators," states a posting on the North Idaho Draft Horse and Mule Association Facebook page. "We have met with veterinarians and committee members and we feel that the safety of the horses and spectators would be jeopardized if we were to proceed."

The posting goes on to say organizers will be putting plans in motion to make the show in 2018 "bigger and better than ever."

With nearly 200 shares and 38 comments Tuesday, the social media posting was met with a reaction of understanding mixed with sadness as many agree that the safety of the horses is important.

"Bummer, but very understandable under the circumstances ..." wrote one person. "We are sad to hear this news, and we know it was a difficult decision to make ..." added another.

The 41st annual show was scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 21-24 at the Bonner County Fairgrounds, as it is always the third weekend after Labor Day. The show typically consists of performances by draft horses and draft mules, as well as several classes of competition throughout the weekend. Competitions include log skidding, men and women's cart, junior cart driving, showmanship, a braiding competition and more. Show-goers also enjoy food vendors, raffles and, of course, visiting with Bonnie Shields, the "Tennessee Mule Artist."

"Again, we truly apologize for any inconvenience," the Facebook posting states. "We will be updating with information on purchased tickets and vendor information."

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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